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Amazon pledges $6m for Covid relief

Amazon Prime Video is committing more than US$6m to support the recovery of the European TV, film and theatre production community.

Jennifer Salke

Donations will be made to emergency Covid-19 funds set up in countries across Europe to support the production community as it restarts filming, the streamer said.

The first confirmed award from the fund is an overall £1.5m (US$2m) to support the UK creative community through donations to the Film & TV Charity’s Covid-19 Response and the Theatre Community Fund, which was launched by Fleabag stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Colman and producer Francesca Moody.

Since the start of the crisis, the Film & TV Charity has distributed more than £3.3m in financial support and launched a range of mental wellbeing services to support thousands of workers in the UK film, television and cinema industry.

The donation from Amazon will kick-start a second wave of support including a major new grants scheme that will focus on supporting diverse talent as the industry recovers and production resumes.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply for up to £4,500 as part of a transformative package of support that will enable those hit hardest by the shutdown to remain in the industry.

The charity is now calling on the industry and individual donors to come forward and add to the founding donation from Amazon. It has set a goal of raising £3.2m, which the charity said would allow it to continue to provide essential services and launch its grants scheme next month.

“The creative community in Europe has been vital to our success in producing high-quality Amazon original TV series and movies for our global audience, and it is essential for us to help that community through this pandemic,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon production arm Amazon Studios.

Amazon Studios has made more than 20 original series across Europe since 2016, including The Grand Tour, Fleabag, All or Nothing: Manchester City, James May: Our Man in Japan and Good Omens in the UK.

Elsewhere, it has made Beat (Germany), Love Island France, Celebrity Hunted: Caccia all’umo (Italy) and El Corazón del Sergio Ramos (Spain).

Future productions include The Power (UK), based on the book of the same name by Naomi Alderman; La Templanza and El Cid (Spain); Deutschland 89 and We Children from Bahnhof Zoo (Germany); Bang Bang Baby (Italy); and Voltaire, Mixte (France).

Amazon Studios has also signed overall deals to create new television content with British creators including Waller-Bridge, Neil Gaiman (Good Omens) and Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave).

In related news, Amazon Prime Video will launch the first four “unsettling” genre movies it has produced with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Television this Halloween.

The Lie, Black Box, Nocturne and Evil Eye will be the first four films to launch worldwide in October, coming after Amazon and Blumhouse agreed a deal for eight interconnected feature-length thrillers in 2018.

Amazon said the movies, which will be branded under the banner Welcome to the Blumhouse, showcase diverse casts and female and emerging filmmakers.

Amazon will launch the initial slate of four films as double features, starting on October 6 with The Lie, directed by acclaimed writer/director Veena Sud (The Killing, 7 Seconds), and Black Box, directed by up-and-coming writer/director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. (Born with It).

Launching the following week on October 13 is Evil Eye, from young directors Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani (A Day’s Work, Jinn) and executive produced by Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico, White Tiger); and Nocturne, written and directed by filmmaker Zu Quirke (Zugzwang, Ghosting), making her feature film debut. The other four films will launch in 2021.

Blumhouse Television has been behind USA Networks’ The Purge and HBO’s The Jinx.

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